Archive for the ‘pop science’ Category

[Drafted whilst I was on the train yesterday but needed to tweak at my desktop and insert a few snaps.]

I am currently sat on the Adirondike AmTrak watching the countryside “whiz” by as it makes its way home to NYC. All I can think is that all these pretty trees and hills (and lakes for all I know) are playing havoc with my 3G connection.  Eleven hours on a train is a good opportunity for reflection.  The last two weeks have been busier than usual, though given that the usual is normally chained to my desk study any trips out side of the flat are the height of excitement.

Things kicked off two Wednesdays ago when I found out (via Twitter) that some of the Comedy Store Players were in town for a one off gig for NY BritWeek. The Players are an improv group from the Comedy Store in London (hence their name The Comedy Store Players – doh!) and I first saw them there seventeen years ago. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO! Oh my how some of them have aged, how old did it make me feel when they were still using the same material from the 90s, and even though it is improv there is a strict format that they follow. All that being said it was a fun evening and made all the more exciting by two special cameo appearances: Eddie Izzard and Mike Myers. These new additions threw the rhythm off which jazzed things up a bit. Izzard though king of improv standup was a little off kilter working with a group but Myers was really the best if the bunch, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him doing his on stchick some time (despite how much Wayan’s World etc annoys me).

There was no rest for the wicked because then morning after the improv night I was out of the flat by 7am in order to get a Royal Pains event at Greenly Square (interesting observation Greenly Square is actually a triangle). To mark the second season of Royal Pains USA Network organized a shirt exchange in the city (again I found out about this event via Twitter). Your donation of a gently used shirt (which goes to HELP USA) triggered USA Network to make a $10 donation to Doctors Without Borders AND you receive a $50 Lacoste gift card. Call to action was as easy as pie and well worth the hour wait (I just need to win my pedometer challenge so that I can make up the difference for a shirt). Plus, whilst I was waiting I got to see the three leads milling about – all before I had my coffee.

Then on Friday night we start our blitz on the World Science Festival. Over the course of three days we saw the ‘Science of Star Trek’ panel,  watched the Mathemagician do tricks with the golden ratio, saw lots of things being smashed thanks to liquid nitrogen, swung by a NASATweetup, and went ‘Back to the Big Band: Inside the Large Hadron Collider’. The StarTrek panel was fun but could have done with a Q & A session but the LHC panel was amazing (even if they didn’t touch upon FlashForward). The moderator knew his stuff (or enough to bluff his way) and was able to involve all the panel through out (Star Trek had been stilted in parts and one participant didn’t say a peep for the first hour). It was a thought provoking weekend and made me want to brush up on my physics.

So you think I’d rest there but oh no on Monday night I head out to a White Collar (yes, another USA Network show) panel at the Paley Center for Media. Because of this bloody pedometer challenge I walked from SoHo to 52nd Street – only 6,000 steps (v. disappointed). The panel was short but sweet (saw a few clips for season two) and Willie Garson is pure gold! So entertaining.

Then on Thursday we took the train up to Montreal for the F1 race and now we are slowly making our way home, and our adventures in Montreal can be a post for another day.

I’ve just got back from seeing Richard Dawkins read extracts from his latest book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and answer a few (tame) questions from the audience. He’s a slick orator and it was worth squishing myself into the crowded bookstore to listen. I’ve been a fan of Dawkins since his ‘Blind Watchmaker’ days, which I read in High School, and  I never imagine that +15 yrs later he’d been a rock star atheist (and that I’d be seeing him do a book reading in NYC).  Once the Q & A started I began to navigate my way towards the front of the store, ready to make my escape and guess who I spied typing away at his MacBook Air – Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Astrophysicist and Director of Hayden Planetarium.  Dr. Tyson is also a regular guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and whenever he is on Stewart and Colbert act like giddy school boys.  It’s nice that given the range of guests they get on their programs they show genuine excitement for the astrophysicist.